Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Time-Sharing

Summer in Florida, like in many other states, affords divorced parents the opportunity to spend blocks of quality time with their children. Most of my clients equally divide up the summer with the children spending half of their time with each parent. This is usually a time for summer trips, bonding and giving a parent who has the children primarily during the school year a much needed break. However, often what you decide to do when your children are younger, may not always work when they get to be teenagers when their life and schedules are more important than spending quality time with mom and/or dad. While I agree that teenagers should always get a say, but they shouldn't always get their way, its important to recognize that a teenager's needs and wants when it comes to summertime time-sharing. Don't take offense if your teenager would rather stay close to home to be near a boyfriend/girlfriend or summer job. Be flexible with them and find ways that you can spend time with them and still accommodate some of their own wishes and desires. Work with your ex-spouse to ensure that a summer time schedule makes sense for everyone. Planning ahead and scheduling out the summer in April or May is a good way to avoid confusion and to provide your teenager with a realistic expectation of what they are and are not going to be able to do with their summer.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Special Needs Children, Divorce, And A Race for a Cure

There is plenty of research out there that sets forth very disappointing statistics about couples with special needs children and divorce. Children put strains on even the happiest of marriages. Couples have a much higher likelihood of divorce if they have a special needs child, whether that is a child with mental or emotional special needs or a child that has been diagnosed with a disease such as cancer. There is no question about the devastating effects that the stress involved with caring for a child that has needs above and beyond what is considered "normal" can have on a marriage. Trying to keep things together emotionally and financially when caring for a special needs child can break the proverbial matrimonial back. Perhaps one of the ways that we can focus on keeping families together is getting to the root of diseases such as autism and cancer and doing proactive things to find cures. Perhaps if less pediatric diseases existed, less couples will end up in divorce court. That's why foundations such as Noah's Light Foundation are an essential part of keeping families together. The focus of Noah's Light Foundation is finding a cure for pediatric brain and spinal tumors. Finding a cure for such diseases can have a ripple effect which reduces the divorce rate in this country. While some couples may still end up in divorce court regardless of whether or not their children are healthy, I truly believe that reducing stress in people's lives does increase happiness which ultimately leads to less divorce.

To read more about Noah's Light Foundation, see:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Child Support Changes

A new approach to calculating child support was signed into law in Florida in June and will effect most, if not all, of the cases that are currently pending before the courts. The law goes into effect either in October 1, 2010 or January 1, 2011 and in short, it drastically changes the way in which child support is calculated. It used to be that unless you had your child or children for 40% of the overnights, you did not receive any type of substantial contact credit. That has changed significantly. Once this law goes into effect, anyone who has their child or children for at least 20% of the overnights (every other weekend from Friday to Monday, alternating holidays and 1/2 the summer) will get a substantial contact credit. Additionally, the following changes will be made:

1. A child support order will have to have a specific termination date and have step down child support specified. This means if you have more than one child there will have to be a termination date inserted for after the first child reaches the age of majority, and then a changed amount and a termination date for each child thereafter. (i.e., child support shall be $1,200 per month for three children terminating June 10, 2012, then $900.00 for two children terminating on August 1, 2014 and then $600.00 ending June 10, 2016).
2. Daycare expenses are no longer discounted by 25%. You now will get credit for 100% of your daycare costs, however, the childcare tax credit will be taken into consideration when determining child support.
3. The courts may have the ability to impute income to someone if they don't provide "adequate" financial information in order to calculate child support. What income they can impute is the change, in that, they can automatically impute income to that party to have the income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census. (If you can figure out what that means, call me.)

In a nutshell, I believe that the legislature is trying to cure the problem of people demanding extra overnights during the week in order to get a substantial contact credit. We'll see if that still makes a difference, but for now, it appears that the way that we calculate child support is going to make some people very happy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Staying In A Bad Relationship For The Kids

There are many studies that talk about the negative effects that divorce has on children. A new study has just been released that states that staying in a hostile and volatile relationship "for the kids" can be much more damaging than divorce itself. I have long since believed that this is the case, and I have heard time and time again that once a couple separates they are able to be better people and parents. However, what couples who are going through a divorce need to understand is----how they treat one another after the divorce will dictate how well their children deal with the divorce. No matter what couples who have children need to put their own issue and problems to the side and learn how to co-parent their children without the hostility and anger that may have led to their divorce. This study shows that staying in a bad relationship is worse than divorce, but it does not address whether or not a relationship that is bad during the marriage and remains bad after the divorce has more or less of a negative effect on children.

To read the article upon which this blog is based, see: